First Sunday of Lent – Fr. Adam Royal
March 1, 2020 – 11:00 AM
When Jesus goes out into the desert, he is showing us the way back to lives of joy. He is showing us how to rediscover ourselves and know God once again. Our lives are a sequence of choices, of decisions to be made. Most of them are trivial and not worth the time we give them. Case in point, ask any small group of people, “To what restaurant do you want to go?” The sheer level of indecisiveness and agonizing over this question is baffling, yet all too human. There are also significant decisions, the ones we know will change our lives forever. So often, we give them too little thought, or we go about making those decisions in the wrong way.
Our lives are not our own; they are a gift. We are not reducible to the inevitable product of a biological process. We are beings formed individually, down to the tiniest detail, by God’s creative love. He builds a plan so that we can be happy, and then he creates us from nothing. Each of us is a reflection of the infinite creative love of God, of his wisdom. But sin has broken into the world, and everything has been darkened. We no longer see God’s glory, and we can’t see our own beauty either; we have lost the way to happiness.
After Jesus’ baptism, he faces a significant decision: begin preaching the Kingdom of Heaven and journey to Jerusalem where he will be crucified, or walk away? Faced with this life-changing choice, Jesus does what we all should do. He goes away from the world, not to isolate himself, but to silence every voice that isn’t God. Everyone has an opinion on how our lives should be run, but Jesus shows us that only God’s voice matters. Then Jesus begins to fast. He gives up both the nutrition and comfort of food so that he can come face to face with his dependence upon the Father. In that state of preparation, he is allowed to be tempted. Which is to say, the alternatives to crucifixion are laid out before him. The tempter says, “you can be a miracle worker who feeds the hungry,” or “a wandering magician who performs great feats that will amaze,” or “you can rule the entire world as its king.” Each time Jesus responds not with merely human thoughts, but with the words of Scripture, with the very words of God. That is, Jesus trusts in the Father’s plan, even knowing what he would suffer because he knows the Father’s love for him. Whatever God has planned for us is the best. That is what it means to say God loves us. So Jesus obeys the Father.
We should approach the significant decisions of our lives in this same way: with silence, prayer, and fasting. We cannot make the best decisions by listening to those around us because all of them, even those closest to us, are sinners. They live in the same darkness, the same separation from God, as do we. Our real good, our authentic happiness, can be found only in the silence of our hearts resting in God’s presence. In that moment of silence, we can be sure that God will speak to us, that he will be a light in our darkness, and show us the way to happiness, the way to become who he created us to be.